Overlooking the River Shannon, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is one of the country’s top visitor attractions.
Situated among 26 acres, the castle is in excellent condition and contains the finest collection of medieval furniture in the country. The 15th and 16th century furnishings and art on display in the Great Hall truly capture the Celtic past and heritage of Co. Clare.
At night-time, the Great Hall becomes the setting for medieval banquets complete with court jesters, maids, and food and drink of the middle ages. These banquets are held year-round subject to demand.
History of Bunratty Castle
- The present Castle is the fourth or fifth structure to occupy this location, close to the River Ratty
- A fortified settlement, surrounded by a moat, was originally built by the Vikings
- In 1250 a Norman by the name of Robert De Muscegros erected the first defensive fortress made of wood
- Another Norman, Thomas De Clare, who built the first stone structure in the 1270s
- In 1318, the castle and town of Bunratty were completely destroyed
- The castle was restored for the King of England but was laid waste again in 1332
- For 21 years it lay in ruins until it was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby
- The castle eventually became the stronghold of the O’Briens, kings of Thomond, who controlled it until the 17th century
- With the arrival of the Cromwellian troops, the castle was surrendered
- Bunratty Castle and its lands were granted to various Plantation families
- The Studdart family were the last of these, and left the castle in 1804 to live in Bunratty House on the castle grounds
- The Castle then fell into disrepair until it was purchased by Viscount Lord Gort in 1954
- The castle was then restored to its former glory and opened to the public in 1960 as a National Monument
Bunratty Castle is just 10 kms from Shannon Airport just off the main dual carriageway (N18) between Limerick and Ennis.